The mission of women helping women is to improve the lives of women and girls through advocacy, education, support and empowerment.
By Rita Oluchi Obi
Women are inarguably the backbone of Nigerian society. For decades, we’ve significantly contributed to the structure and economic development of multiple communities. Although this is known, gender bias continues to limit the impact of women throughout the nation, restraining the country from beating its massive potential. Despite the fact that there has been an increase in women stepping into male dominated roles, climbing the corporate ladder and becoming trailblazers throughout Nigeria, there are still various economic, political, social and systemic practices that serve as a hindrance to the participation of women in politics, governance and decision making in Nigeria.
Realistically, it may take a while to get the government and other stakeholders fully on board with developing and implementing more programs and policies to empower women politically, socially and economically. To instantly break down barriers and build opportunities for women throughout Nigeria, women must engage with women outside of their social circles and develop more knowledge sharing spaces that provide practical advice to ensure that we are accommodated in every and any arena in Nigeria.
In our society, people tend to interact almost exclusively with people who share similar educational histories, incomes and occupations. Unfortunately, this lack of cross class interaction simply makes it much harder for people in lower social classes to develop the relationships and other forms of social capital necessary for economic opportunity and educational advancement.
To ensure that opportunities are circulated amongst a variety of women in Nigeria, more spaces must be created to encourage interaction across different classes of women. Although many women empowerment programs or events held in Nigeria are free or affordable, opportunities to speak with panellists and experts in intimate settings are quite rare for attendees (some attendees troop one to two hours to attend certain women empowerment events). To change this, we must hold more interactive events that will require conversations being exchanged between different social classes, and create more opportunities for attendees to get some ‘face to face‘ time with experts, panellists and speakers.
Knowledge sharing is essential for the success of women in Nigeria. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure that events held are truly impactful and effective. This includes making sure that the advice or tips provided by panellists and speakers are more tangible and practical than generic. In my Corporate Nigeria Girl 101 workshops, rather than hitting my attendees with the “God has been faithful” line or solely encouraging them to pursue their dream careers, I provide them with strategy needed to land a seat at certain tables, build their professional brand and position themselves as experts. As a result, women as young as 20 years old, have been landing jobs with 200K Naira salaries.
As for the women who are interested in breaking into certain social circles, or acquiring contacts in certain spaces, you have to put in some effort too. Search the web for events happening in your area, create a “networking savings” account that you can put funds into for networking event fees, outfits for networking events, and transport money to attend conferences or workshops. If you don’t have the chance to speak with panellists or experts at events, reach out to them via LinkedIn, email, Instagram, etc. If you can’t get in contact with them directly, reach out to someone who knows them (please make sure you have a BRIEF elevator pitch ready. Do not attempt to contact people more than two times if they have not responded. It’s excessive).
Women crossing classes and launching more “practical and tangible” knowledge sharing spaces throughout Nigeria will build solidarity amongst us all. Cultivating this type of culture will continue to amplify our voices, increase our economic participation, and land us multiple seats in spaces that we aren’t usually allowed in.
Rita Oluchi Obi is an international Career Strategist, Public health professional, Social entrepreneur, Speaker, Start up non-profit Consultant and Hotelier in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the founder of Corporate Black Girl 101, LLC (CBG 101), an international professional development digital platform that helps black women in the United States and West Africa land dream jobs and negotiate higher salaries. She has been helping millennial professionals land jobs since 2012. Through the Nigeria branch of CBG 101, Corporate Naija Girl 101, she has helped over 145 women in Nigeria land dream jobs, higher salaries and achieve their professional goals.